World of Warcraft
There is nothing like a Timewalking event to make you appreciate old school MMO players and feel bad that newer MMO players haven’t had to learn what used to be “core competencies” in MMOs. Now to be sure – these skills aren’t as important because they aren’t prevalent in today’s gaming but for anyone who grew up when MMOs had a modicum of challenge this will be very familiar territory.
The setting was a 5 man Timewalking Dungeon from the Cataclysm expansion – specifically Throne of the Tides. I am levelling my 4th and 5th characters to cap (more on that later) and my Shaman has a heal spec which I spent many years playing so into Timewalking dungeons I go. Throne of the Tides has some large pack pulls (5+) and very specific mobs that cast greater heal. With the de-levelling and gearing you can’t just muscle through it. You need focus fire, and interrupts, and/or CC. The first run I did of this dungeon was with “newer” WoW players. They just kept full AOE, no interrupts, and we literally spent over 5 minutes bashing our heads against a single pack until we wiped. I, as a healer, was the only person trying to interrupt. Even when I Hex’ed a healer (hard CC) someone would hit it to bring it into AOE fest. I took the time and energy to try and explain.
Not only did they not get it, the Mage didn’t even have Polymorph on her hotbar. I kid you not. Of course, makes sense, because if you never have to use a spell/skill why bother? I remember those pulls “back in the day” and we would do a SAP, POLY, HEX, FREEZE TRAP and prioritize the others, rotating interrupts. When done it was a wonderful coordination and really made you feel like a team. Now it is just gather up as much as you can and AOE it all down. The beauty and intricacies of the genre are completely watered down.
But there is hope.
That group fell apart because people refused to communicate, mark mobs, and try something different. So I requeued up and decided to try again. This time I got a group that cleary was from the Cataclysm era. The tank marked mobs. BLue square was hunter trap. X was Polymorph. Was explained once, and everyone excuted throughout the whole 5 man. It was still the same old, same old WoW experience because no one said a word after the “rules” were set until the final piece of loot dropped (“ty all”, was the crux of it.) but it was a well oiled, experienced machine.
Rest of the runs were a mixed bag of both which was when I realized that a lot of players either just don’t know any better, or don’t care to put in the effort. All of this means that there is probably less complexity on it’s way in future games and they will continue to be questing snore-fests.
No wonder why nothing really new is coming out in the space “for the masses”, and hopefully the niche titles will try to recapture at least some of the personal responsibility along with personal loot boxes.
Well, that didn’t take long. As of this morning I have completed all the Broken Isles content I had planned too (LFR once through all, got the new flying form, have completed all the main quests). I am also done all of Argus except the LFR raid (and will probably finish that off tonight). It took me three days to go from 7.2 to 7.35. To be fair, I was running pretty good content when I left (Mythic +9, etc.) but wasn’t raiding outside of LFR. My ilvl is 891 and that is a far cry away from the easy to reach 910 from grinding out Argus, so there is a goal at least. I also need to grind out enough material to upgrade all of my legendary items to 1000 but almost have enough for my first just through the leveling process. It’s good to have goals but outside of daily Emissary quests I think I am already out of things to do. So, I started doing my main two alts (Rogue and Paladin) through the Daily Emissary quests for catch up and get them headed to the Broken Shore. I then started planning out three other characters I want to get to max level (Shaman 94, Monk 56 , Hunter 101 – in that order) when it occurred to me – here I am again, hook line and sinker repeating the content I just completed in a whopping three days to climb in ilvl for no specific purpose. What’s that quote about doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different outcome? Although hard to judge because it was a super fun and comfortable three days. This is how games suck you in.
I’m not a big fan of the new flight form for the Druid. The old one, looks like a scrappy young druid ready for battle. Maybe a bit like a “still able to fly version” of a Dark Crystal Skeksis.
The new version is a grandpa like, “get off my lawn you pesky kids” version.
The bad mustache style feathers and upright neck make it also look uncomfortable. I’m not sure if I will be keeping it, but will give it a chance to grow on my a bit. We’ll see if Grandpa Owl has all the tangible benefits of a real grandparent.
The flying quest had an instance where you had to go support Thisalee Crow to get the Relic back from a big bad Legion guy. The fun part for this is that I already had Thisalee Crow accompanying me in my adventures in the Broken Isles. So there was a weird moment where her and her clone and I were all hanging out. Can you say awkward?
Outside of that continuity error – of which I don’t suspect Blizzard really cares – the experience has been WoW through and through. Although I did stop to pause to wonder if “old Blizzard” would have cared of the duplicity there. I know they aren’t into immersion as importance but they have done a lot of good cutscene work and surely someone would have noticed that this was a very distinct probability for a druid character. Of which, a production manager of some sort would have realized that there would be no real outcry, so why bother investing programming time and dollars to find a fix for something that wasn’t going to be noticed or written about by anyone of substance? There was one Argus cutscene moment where I actually said “Wow, that was cool!” and I don’t want to put this post into spoiler territory (guessing I am the last in the world to see it anyway) but take a guess in the comments if you think you know which I am talking about.
Ilvls to grind and alts to level. For now. I have enough for a token for my first 30 days and I made 30,000 on the first day in the Auction house, so the game is free for me for as long as I want to play it. Will see how long it can capture my attention for for now. The big question is if I will drag my alts through the same experience or if I can stick to just one character.
Well, with some helpful tips in my last post from Leo and Will my “ehrmagahd this grind is going to suck!” path to flying turned into “really, that’s it?”. It helped of course that I was fully done all the prereqs and had to just slog through a gated quest to get the Legionfall rep a flowing. Yay, I can Crow Form again!
Yaaaas! Longtime readers with excellent memories (no, I am not going to link all the posts from years gone by) will know how much I love flying in World of Warcraft. Tesh and I would chat about it all the time. Something about the Crow form and just flying around is a complete joy in the game. Which is always why I am upset and confused on why they take it away temporarily in their expansions. It is a core part of the game, the excuses for not being able to fly are completely lame and immersion breaking, and people who care about “seeing the world” will still do that. Some will just do it from better viewing angles, too.
So of course I am in the full “pure fly, all the time” camp. Not being able to fly is a severe detriment to my enjoyment of the game. It is kind of like how I struggle with any game that doesn’t have jump (Dauntless, The Division). Being grounded just isn’t any fun at all. Of course in the interest of keeping land masses small and huddled and lowering development costs by stretching out existing content via travel times, we end up with a lie to excuse not flying every expansion and a lengthy quest to eventually get it. It’s fake content, but it’s all we have. Clcearly with my additional slang and silliness in my writing you can tell how much happier I am and how much better WoW Legion is right now with flying.
While I am still not “done” LegionFall content (there is a new flight form to unlock, and a new bear form, at “bear” minimum. Ugh, yes, the silliness continues…) I quickly jumped to the Argus content so I can get some key upgrades. The super cool awesome new Bear Form is supposedly very difficult to get with low ilvl gear. So I figured if I run through the quest content on Argus then I can go back and sort through how to get that form. More, super guided, super easy planned obsolecence content is not my cup of tea but it is exactly what World of Warcraft is. Argus, here I come!
And back to no flying. Birds are now Deer. Or Elk. Definitely not Reindeer, because that would be super cool to fly as a Reindeer. Time to slog through non-interesting and engaging content with my feet flat on the ground. The good news about Argus and the guided quest experience is that – well it’s kind of like – you know, that thing that is sorta – oh damn. Trying to find something positive and fair. Wait, I got it. Comfortable. That is the right word for WoW leveling through a new area. Like a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter’s day. Without the alcohol to zip it up.
What WoW DOES do well is scale. Fighting giant creatures makes you feel pretty epic. I was carefully dodging all of his telegraphed, big attacks until I missed one my accident – and realized that he hits like a wet noodle. I stopped trying to get out of the way and took the hits, mashed some buttons, and pushed the scattered narrative forward.
In comfort, not style.
Well, my return to World of Warcraft wasn’t as smooth, fun, or heralded as I expected. I haven’t used bullet points in a while.
- First off my guild of the past three expansions was gone. It wasn’t that I was kicked out of it but that it had completely disbanded. I was shocked because even my first guild – from 2007 still exists with a skeleton crew. I know this even though I have long left the server because my Potion Bank Alt is still in that guild (along with my Warrior alt.) I login once in a while to see who is still there and kicking around. I moved servers when I quit being a guild leader and followed some friends who wanted a better timezone for their playtime. Since I wasn’t leading or raiding anymore, the Mountain time zone didn’t matter (I am Eastern Standard) as I was playing WoW super casual at that time (and still am). So when I had some good gaming friends go to a new server I went with them. It also gave me a good split from a guild that I had loved for many years – but when you step down as a leader it’s hard to be in the wings, and many people send you whispers looking for advice, etc. that is better for the new leadership to handle. You feel like you are in the way. I do regret that move some days, because I left a lot of good people behind and I didn’t support them how I should have. It’s tough when “it’s just a game” and “there are real people who matter” collide.
- For some reason WoW is the only game I can’t play with the base UI. I had to download, install, update and configure no less than 17 mods to get the base UI to a state I deemed “playable”. Curse used to auto-update this for me but now they are owned by Twitch, so I had to install a new installer program. Plus, many of my favorite mods were no longer supported or updated so I had to find mods that did a similar thing. It took two of my first full play sessions to even get close to being able to play. I am still not done by any stretch of the imagination but it’s pretty close now. I think this crutch is as much my own issue as the game itself as a past raider the mods you had to have became a part of the core experience. I have had zero issues in DDO, EQ2, EQ1, TSW (etc.) with needing mods to play.
- At this stage in the expansion and where I was at there is so just so much to do and no real proper or clear path in what order to do it in – the game is pulling me in several different directions that are unrelated. There are quests to unlock new traits in my artifacts – but those traits are already unlocked (I think as a catch up mechanic?). I already spent billions on improving it then finished the quests and became able to do… what I already did. Flying in Legion does NOT have an easy catch up mechanic. I don’t know why the WoW devs hate that so much. Should be easy peasy at this point and not a month long grind. I have daily quests from Argus – an area I haven’t been to yet (want to finish off the flying part first) and they take up one of my three available daily chest slots. I had two of them going at one point. I feel like it should be more streamlined at this point.
- I did LFR to get some quests done and see the bosses – and it is embarrassingly easy at this stage. I went in without reading a single raid boss strat and killed them all. I am glad they exist. It’s pretty easy to just watch other players and react accordingly. I did some of the new 5 mans too. The best part about LFR over the 5 mans is that people talk in LFR! Sure, it’s only to complain about “noobs” and “I can’t heal stupid” but seeing chat was nice.
- Oh, I did join one of those random accept guild invites. Guild perks are a thing in WoW for rep and quest grinds in particular. Lucky for me they are chatty and seem friendly. No clue what my long term plans are – I definitely do not want to pay to transfer all my characters to my old home (Whisperwind) but if I can cross account things now to Horde side I may go next xpac as a Horde. I talk about that every expansion but never do it.
I am not loving the return. I am committed to trying to get flying. Curious to level a Monk. Going to start playing the AH to try and preserve a free subscription cost. This may be a short trip back, we will see. I was hoping to be having more fun and be more excited at this stage!
I spent a lot of months in Legion last year, and it has been probably my second favorite expansion. I have a strange relationship with WoW that bounced from love to hate and most emotions in between. It is hard to explain why in some regards – I have had multiple accounts at multiple times, happily paying my subscription fee. I don’t know if there is another game I treat the same way as WoW. For example, when I play it I feel I have to exclusively play it – and play it hard – because I have to “pay” for it. While this is less true now (with tokens I haven’t paid for it the whole expansion) I am still exchanging something for that access more than time – so I feel like I need to be dedicated and focused at it.
Legion lost me at their first real hard gear reset. That was in and around 7.2. I had spent a month grinding out challenging content to slowly inch my ilvl up by 1s and 2s to, well, be stronger I guess. Then a patch came that greatly increased your ilvl for basic tasks and quests and I realized that all the effort I was putting in was wasted. I could just wait for the “last” patch in the expansion, and get easy gear with less effort and time. I don’t even think that this is fair to say because I was having fun – but when you hit the progression wall as a non-raider it starts to feel like work. (Less work than raiding mind you). So I made the decision to stop, and stop all the alts I was levelling, and wait until the next expansion was announced so I could just finish off the expansion and park my characters until the next. We have been at that point for a while now, but I still didn’t have the itch or the push to make WoW “my game” again – I am having too much fun in other games that only need my time.
I am being clear here that I actually think the way I look at and feel about WoW is largely unfair in comparison to how I play other games. I am so emotionally tied to the wonderful and terrible experiences I had in the game that I honestly believe that I owe it to my druid to continue his journey to the level cap with each expansion. Then I start having fun and start getting other characters there (as I love the way many different ones play), and eventually the fun turns into a grind that I realize isn’t making it fun anymore, and I step away. Legion was the longest I stayed in any expansion since WOTLK though as it had hit a lot of good places. Even now I am wondering why I didn’t level a Shaman. I had done my Druid (as my main), my Paladin next, my Rogue, messed around with a Demon Hunter, worked on a Hunter… that is a lot. I can completely see how and why WoW is a permanent home for many. It just doesn’t always last for me.
The tipping point to getting back into it?
Sometimes you just need a little push. Being so far behind and no real goals in site (except experience all the updated content, probably get flying, level an alt or two – fu@k here it goes again…) I probably won’t have a lot to report here, but then again, I always find something to complain about.